DeSoto Seafood Festival draws big crowds, Vanilla Ice fans

jdeleon@bradenton.comApril 6, 2014 

PALMETTO -- It's annual tradition for many in Manatee County: the DeSoto Seafood Festival.

But while the location may be new this year, the food seemed to please the crowds just as much as years past.

For others, the music is always a draw. And for 30-somethings and 40-somethings, Saturday's headliner was a blast back to their youth.

For the crowds gathered in Sutton Park on Saturday, they all wanted to hear the one song that would take them back: "Ice Ice baby."

And they weren't disappointed, it seemed.

Mindy Petrin was a big Vanilla Ice fan back in the day, she said.

"I'm very excited," Petrin said. "I'm showing my kids and my nephews what I used to listen to. "

The '90s rapper was definitely what brought her out for the second time at the DeSoto Seafood Festival, she said.

"I haven't seen him in a while, " Petrin said.

Heather Martinez was also a fan.

"My parents live in Palmetto, and they told me about it, " Martinez said. "I didn't know Vanilla Ice was going to be here until today."

It was a happy surprise for her after driving down from Valrico.

"I'm interested in seeing him after all these years," Martinez said.

The crowd went crazy when he took the stage.

And instead of ice, Vanilla Ice cooled off his fans by dousing them with bottles of water.

He began his performance with some newer material before slowly making his way to the song that made him famous.

A couple dozen fans were chosen to take the stage mid-song, busting a move to "Ice Ice Baby."

Among those near the front of the stage was Ches Gibson.

"I didn't know he was going to be here until we were on our way here," Gibson said. "Now I'm texting my sisters and my whole family."

Officials with the DeSoto Historical Society, the festival's organizer, were very happy with the turnout of the event's new home -- it relocated this year from Bradenton.

"It's so much wider and open here," Dawn Atkinson said. "Families can bring their children and still be with their friends."

Her husband and former president of the group, Chris Atkinson, was very pleased with the event and how welcoming the City of Palmetto has been, he said.

"I have been working this festival for 20 years," he said. "The venue is so much larger."

The couple were enjoying their fresh seafood platter as they looked around.

"The City of Palmetto has been unbelievably welcoming," he said. "And as you can see there is no trash on the floor."

Others enjoyed all the festival had to offer.

Frank and Laninie Davis were enjoying a cold beer at the beer tent near all the food.

"Absolutely, we are having so much fun," she said. "I have been coming to this festival for years."

The couple were happy with the festival's new home in Palmetto, after it relocated this year from the streets of downtown Bradenton.

"It's back to how it used to be, instead of all spread out," she said. "It had gotten too big."

The music was still the best part of the festival, the couple said.

"It's great," he said. "They should do it more often, at least three times a year."

Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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